Sculptures find new home at Chabad Center in UCity


Photo by Bill Motchan

Bill Motchan, Special to the Jewish Light

If you’ve driven by the Morris & Ann Lazaroff Chabad Center on Delmar Boulevard in University City lately, you may have noticed the appearance of five iron sculptures just east of the building. The grassy area was previously a blank slate except for a small pond used for tashlich services on Rosh Hashanah. The new sculptures were given to Chabad by developer and philanthropist Michael Staenberg.

“There’s an artist named Mark Wren out of Denver,” Staenberg said. “He’s a sculptor and he makes unique pieces. I bought 50 of them and put some at the mikvah of East Denver, some at the Factory, some at the JCC and some at Kol Rinah. I thought they would be nice at Chabad and add a little interest.”

Rabbi Yosef Landa, regional director of Chabad of Greater St. Louis, initially saw some of the Wrenart Studio sculptures in front of the J’s Staenberg Family Complex.

“I thought, ‘Wow, it really changes and uplifts the character of the campus,’” Landa said. “I thought it was a great idea to put them there. So I was talking to Michael Staenberg at Sababa and I said, ‘I really like what you did with the sculptures,’ and he said, ‘If you like them, I have a few of them for you.’”

The Wren abstract sculptures dot the property and are illuminated with solar-powered lights. Staenberg said he plans to enhance the area with additional features.

“In the next couple of months, I’m going to do some landscaping there similar to what we did at Kol Rinah and put in a little seeding and landscaping and trees,” Staenberg said.

Landa said the sculptures are a perfect fit for Chabad.

“This kind of abstract art lends itself to the space,” he said. “When we look at a piece of art, we try to imagine all the possibilities the artist may have thought of when creating it, so it’s a kind of art that’s more spiritual. Art is a wonderful thing and it’s appropriate for a spiritual setting.”